Do you have a problem like this in your life?
Dad married a lady, and she likes to talk whenever a thought hits her, no matter how feloniously trivial. Because, hey, she had a thought and SHE'S TALKING NOW.
"Believe me, the price of wheat is higher," says Dad. I am at his large country estate, far from the degrading filth of civilization (aka my place). The three of us are going to have dinner out on the cabana* by the lake he owns most majestically. "In any event, beets and quinoa are doing well on the world market. Now, if your brothers would just--"
"Don," says Maria, "did you turn on the grill?"
"Yes. Now, according to Bernanke, the currency exchange rate will--"
"Don," says Maria, "will you get the forks out of the drawer?"
"Yes, yes. Anyway, the global price index for the remaining quarter will add significantly to investor confidence which millions of----"
"Don," says Maria, "my face is incredibly tight!"
"Federal Reserve... Alan Greenspan... Money..."
"Don," says Maria, "I have a pageboy hairstyle and a freak lizard neck!"
(Then, all pretense gone, their voices cacophony it up at once:)
"Bernanke... Get the mushrooms... Economic laws that... Are these greens fresh?... once the banks were deregu... Arugula good this time of year... FDR, have you heard of him?**... Deficit hawks!... Sleestaks!... Goddamn everything to hell!"
(That last one might have been mine; don't worry, no one heard it.)
We carry our plates of salmon and grilled eggplant (lightly rubbed with gold bricks) to the aforementioned cabana by the water. There we eat and proceed to have a "conversation."
"If Romney wins, this country will go to hell," says Maria, snapping a lobster claw in her giant teeth. "You watch."
"Where did you get the lobster?"
"The Jews are always working," says Dad. "They are industrious!"
"They are clean, at least," fiercely agrees Maria. "Even in the fifties, the French in Paris didn't have running toilets! Do you know what they did? They threw their filth out into the street! And the women don't shave their legs or their armpits. It is DISGUSTING."
"To the Jews," says Dad, holding up his jeroboam of Chianti. "To an industrious race."
"Don," says Maria, "pour me another glass because I haven't said enough ridiculous things yet."
"Yes, my dear," says Dad, his moue delightfully puckered. On golden pond-esque light gleams in the ringlets of hair around his ears and his soft amused mouth. "Mm, yes."
"I ordered textiles from an Indian once," screeches Maria, "but the man always insisted on using DHL to ship even when I insisted on UPS! Those Indians will promise you anything, but then they never deliver! I never had a problem with a Jew in my life."
"I worked with Jews in Los Angles and they were always hard working."
"There are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world, but only 16 million Jews," says Maria, "yet a Muslim has never won a Nobel Prize and the Jews have won 85!"
"The Jews are industrious," says Dad, nodding sleepily.
Not sure if a pogrom or jihad is imminent--or a jihad of a pogrom of two travesties--I try to steer the conversation to my mom and her shitty job, but I am interrupted. Gah?
"Do you know why your mother is doing that?" says Maria, "I'll tell you! Because she wants money! That's all she wants!"
"No, my dear," gently corrects Dad like a laxative during a string quartet, "that she is not. She is doing it for emotional needs. I'm afraid you don't know her as well as we do." (He meant the royal we.)
Maria drinks, throat working like a camel after a jihad across Africa.
"All I know is," says Maria, "the rich are bleeding this country dry. And they are the Jews! They own everything!" Waves arms dramatically, her pashmina scarf whipping about in the lake breeze. "Yes, and do you know why that is? They believe in education!"
"I'm getting a bit uncomfortable at how often the word Jew is being repeated," I say. "In fact, I don't know if--"
"The rich are bleeding the country dry!" says the rich lady (see above).
I proffer Bill Gates, for the sake of nuance. Not all the rich are bad per se, nicht wahr?
"Snort!" says Maria. "Here's a man who makes his money HERE, but gives it all to Africa! It's DISGUSTING. And Oprah, too."
"Oprah, too," says Dad, nodding.
"This country needs a revolution," say Maria, thrusting up her bony ineffectual fist, and with that she drops off the side of her chair.
"Ha, ha," says Dad. "She's drunk."
"Just like a Finn," I say.
* Cabana is their term for it. Don't sue me.
** He actually asked me that.